Monte Morris is a baller. That is no secret to Iowa State fans. Now the whole basketball world is beginning to see it too.
The Denver Nuggets own the best record in the western conference and it hasn’t been a fluke. They have beat the Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, and many other elite teams en route to a historical season, Monte Morris has played a huge role thus far.
So far, Monte has been doing everything he did at Iowa State. Smart basketball, efficiency, distribution, and intensity.
I caught up with him in Denver before his game against the San Antonio Spurs. He said something that we pretty much already knew, but it’s a great reason why Monte has been so successful. “Fred was more of an NBA style, the way we played. Five out offense helped me translate to the NBA. Coach Prohm drew it to us on the defensive end.”
Monte has been one of the best bench players in the league on both sides of the ball. He’s averaging 10.3 points on 47.7% from the floor, 45.9% from three, and 81.8% from the line. However, the best part of Monte’s game is still game management. He’s averaging 4.2 assists while maintaining an NBA-best 6-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s also averaging 1.1 steals per game while maintaining a well-above average 101.6 defensive rating.
However, stats don’t tell the full story. At the Spurs game I attended, Monte was just 1-6 from the floor and couldn’t buy a basket. However, he had 7 assists and took control of the game when Nuggets guard Malik Beasley went down with an injury. Not to mention, Morris iced the game with two clutch free throws. In a game where Monte wasn’t scoring, he still effected the game in every other way and helped pick up a huge win over the Spurs.
Earlier in the season, I wrote a piece on what Monte had been doing in the association. A lot of his stats now are the same as they were back then, but one thing that’s improved a ton is his shooting. After four games, Morris was shooting just 32.4% from the field and 37.5% from deep. I made the point that even though shots weren’t falling, it was a good sign that he was getting open looks. The fact that Monte was still playing a lot of minutes despite poor shooting was a great sign of what was to come.
Guess what’s happened since then. Monte has shot the ball much better. I already posted his splits earlier, but I might as well refresh you. .477 FG, .459 3PT, .881 FT. We all knew that he would get more efficient as the season went along because that’s who he is a player, but I don’t think anyone expected him to be one of the best shooters in the NBA. How did that happen? One huge reason is a gum wrapper. Yeah you read that right. For the better part of last offseason Monte placed a gum wrapper between his thumb and index finger to create more of a consistent motion on his follow through. Another huge reason is confidence. I asked him how big of a role confidence has played and he responded by saying “You get confidence from working out, I’ve been working out a lot. Trying to get my shot better.”
It’s obvious that he’s been in the gym a lot. There are only six players in the NBA that are currently shooting at a higher percentage from three than Monte Morris and Steph Curry is not one of them. This is obvious and unbiased, Monte Morris > Steph Curry.
Monte Morris is balling out on the biggest stage in the sport and it’s so fun to watch. The crazy part that I forget a lot is that he hasn’t even played half of an NBA season. He’s going to get so much better and will look like even more of an NBA veteran. Monte Morris is making Cyclone nation so proud and I cannot wait to watch him blossom into a star.